Terse comments preceded Monday’s vote on the spending plan for fiscal ’19-20; the proposal was later approved in a 3 to 1 majority vote.
Noting that he has been “opposed to it from the git-go,” Lock Boyce, who represents the Mayo River District on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, alleged it was “a dishonest budget that was done behind closed doors. There is no reason” for the 20 percent real estate tax hike.
Earlier in the budget process, supervisors approved an 11-cents increase to the real estate levy, raising it from 57-cents to 68-cents per $100 of assessed value.
The increase was half of the 22-cents recommended by David Rose, of Davenport & Co. LLC, a consulting firm retained by the county this year, after supervisors had approved deficit budgets for the last five years and nearly depleted the contingency fund.
“You raise these taxes next year, you’re gonna have a lot of people defaulting on their taxes. There’s a lot that could be done to this budget that wasn’t done,” Boyce said.
Rickie Fulcher, chairman, said “Lock, you’re entitled to your opinion, and I appreciate your opinion.”
“No, you don’t, and I don’t appreciate your opinion,” Boyce retorted hotly.
Noting the county will continue to have a deficit budget, Jane Fulk, of the Dan River District, said “I think we have done all we can do with it.”
Fulk served on the budget committee, along with Fulcher. The committee worked to whittle the deficit from the more than $3.5 million initially proposed as part of the more than $55 million budget to less than $1 million, or $892,764.
The committee made changes in several areas, cutting $319,845 from General Government Administration; $26,948 from Public Safety; $17,100 from Public Works; $32,804 from Community Development and $411,545 from Education.
Other categories were increased: $34,056 in Judicial Administration, which Fulcher said on Tuesday will be used to help pay for programs such as home monitoring of inmates and $344,700 to Health & Welfare, for Medicaid expansion and other programs, he added.
In addition to the increased real estate tax revenues, the county also approved a plan to restructure certain debts as a cost savings measure and will obtain a $3.5 million Revenue Anticipation Note (RAN) to ensure it has enough funds to operate in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
Fulcher said the proceeds from the RAN will be used only “if we need it. I hope we don’t need it, just like this last time.” The county withdrew the required $50,000 and invested it to help offset the interest payment, he said.
Crystal Harris, of the Smith River District, said “it has been a tough budget year. I’ve always been a supporter of schools and public safety. Our people (county employees) have not received a raise since 2016.”
Karl Weiss, of the Blue Ridge District, did not attend the meeting due to a death in his family, but Fulcher said Weiss approved of the board moving forward on the budget vote.